Data from the Department of Finance published shows confidence returning to financial markets but also a clear divergence between the fortunes of industry and customer-focused services. 

Domestic indicators show spending falling back since restrictions were reintroduced. 

The Department publishes regular updates of so-called 'high frequency data' which collates various information sources to give a more up to date picture of the economy than traditional measures like GDP.

The Department also includes data on Covid-19. It finds that Ireland's second wave of the virus may have peaked in late October. This was accompanied by an increase in fatalities but fewer than in other European countries.

The report finds that an additional 98,000 people have availed of the PUP since the introduction of Level 5 restrictions. In October there were also 203,000 people on the Live Register and 342,900 on the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. 

The Department notes a slowdown in the recovery of the economy in August and September with activity, using a range of indicators, around 2% below average.

This is reflected in card payment data which had bounced back to above pre-pandemic levels in August but has since fallen back to levels seen in June. This falloff in spending happened in tandem with a resurgence in the virus. It also happened in other countries like France and Italy. The declines in spending are evident amongst younger and older consumers. 

Using data from card payment company Revolut, the report notes how e-commerce accounted for 30% of purchases in February, rising to 50% in April. And just last week, Revolut card users purchased the majority of their goods online for the first time. 

It also uses data from LinkedIn which shows companies are back hiring at rates they were a year ago. However, it cautions that LinkedIn data may have a disproportionate number of financial and IT jobs. These job types might be easier to do remotely, so it may not indicate an economy-wide trend. 

The report also notes that all forms of transport have seen declines since restrictions were re-introduced in September. Traffic levels have also fallen off.

The Department's report notes that financial markets have responded positively to the outcome of the US election and news earlier this week of early success in Covid-19 vaccine trials.

European markets, including Ireland, remain below the point at which they were in mid-February, but have been steadily rallying despite a falter in early October when many countries reintroduced lockdown measures. 

Oil prices have risen since their trough in April. The price a barrel of oil today averages $44 compared to $68 at the beginning of the year. This has contributed to falling prices generally, and disinflation in Ireland and the rest of the eurozone. 

The recovery in manufacturing, measured by industrial output, eased in August and remains below pre-pandemic levels. The traditional manufacturing sector in Ireland remains 10% below pre-pandemic levels. When the multinational sector is included, this falls back to a decline of 5%. 

Indicators of the future intentions of firms in manufacturing predict the sector will be more resilient than in the early stages of the pandemic. However, service firms are less optimistic. This is cited as more evidence for the emergence of a 'two-speed' economy. 

This negative outlook is matched across Europe and the UK but not in the US or China where second lockdowns have been avoided so far.